An Open Letter to the Politicians Threatening to Block UCLA’s Move to the Big Ten
Dear University of California Board of Regents, specifically those of you who are considering an 11th-hour obstruction of UCLA's defection from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten:
Change is inevitable.
Your resistance is futile.
While you play politics and attempt to adopt new university ordinances to preclude athletic directors and other administrators from making such fundamentally momentous decisions and changes in the future, the wheels of progress are already turning forward in perpetual motion.
You and California Gov. Gavin Newsome say your chief concern with UCLA's departure from the Pac-12 is the negative consequences it would visit upon UCLA's sister institution within the University of California system, Cal-Berkeley. Even if that is your true motive — and I place great emphasis on "if" as you all are politicians, which is more than enough reason to suspect you of disingenuous capitalization, let alone it being an election year — then your cause is already a lost one.
You bemoan the millions of dollars in lost revenue-sharing funds that UCLA's desertion will cost Cal-Berkeley. But you fail to mention that USC will cost your institution far more when it leaves for the Big Ten, and, since Southern Cal is a private university, your grandiloquence and ham-handedness are useless there.
A report you commissioned to determine the effects UCLA's move to the Big Ten will have on Cal-Berkeley proves your so-called concerns indolent and misplaced: USC's divorce from the Pac-12 will cost the league's remaining members, including Cal-Berkeley, about $10 million per year in lost revenue sharing. That figure — again, determined by your own people — when it comes to UCLA? Less than a third of that amount.
Even if your last-gasp attempt at forcing UCLA to remain in the Pac-12 somehow succeeds, — spoiler alert: it won't — Cal-Berkeley athletics' finances would still be facing utter oblivion as a USC-less Pac-12 is a conference on a collision course with insolvency.
And by coercing UCLA into staying put, you would be severely imperiling the school's sports future. The genesis of this entire issue was the $100-plus-million debt currently saddling UCLA's athletic department, which presented administrators with the grim reality of having to cut several entire programs in order to make ends meet.
But then the Big Ten came calling, with its deeper pockets and greener pastures, rescuing Bruins athletics with the sort of bail-out package politicians like you love to misappropriate.
If you compel UCLA to remain in the Pac-12, whether by esoteric university statute or by political intimidation, you will essentially author the end of several of the school's athletic programs. You would also guarantee that two schools within your university system are facing athletic ruin as opposed to only one.
You would better serve your constituents and institutions by investing your time and resources in other matters. Ones you're better suited for, like virtue-signaling and wedge issues.
Those Of Us Residing In Reality